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Archive for December, 2008

Our Father in Heaven

A Meditation on Matthew 6:9-10

Our Father in heaven.
Our Father in heaven.

The God to whom we pray.

Our Father is in heaven.  Our God is beyond us.
God Almighty, El Shaddai, the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient creator of all the universe.

God can do all things.

Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.  For he spoke, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast. (Ps. 33:8-9)

Jesus looked at them and said, “With men this is impossible, but all things are possible with God.” (Mt. 19:26)

God can do all things.

God is beyond us.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isa. 55:8-9)

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
(Rom. 11:33-36)

God is beyond us.

While God is good, we should have a certain awe and trepidation when we encounter God.  When Moses came to the burning bush he was told, “Do not come any closer.” “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”  When Moses asked to see God, God said to him, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence…But you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” (Ex. 33:18-19)

Fear of the Lord is more than simple admiration.

What is the biggest thing you can imagine?
What is the largest thing you can grasp in your mind?
What is the most powerful thing you have encountered?

God is beyond this.
God is more powerful.
God is that which nothing greater can be conceived.

This is the God we worship.
This is the God we pray to.

But…

There is a contradiction.

This God in heaven is not distant.  This God in heaven is not removed.
The unknowable God has made himself known.
This God in heaven is our Father.
Our Father in heaven.

When Moses encounters God, God tells him that his name is “I AM.”  And from this phrase we get the name of God.  This name comes down to us in the pronunciations Yahweh and Jehovah, but we don’t really know how this name was meant to pronounced.  We do not know because the ancient Israelites considered the name so holy, they stopped saying it.  In reading scripture, they began saying, “Adonai,” “My Lord,” in its place.  In became the custom that the name of God could only be said once a year, by the High Priest, on Yom Kippur.  Such was the reverence for God.

And then…
An undistinguished Rabbi from the obscure town of Nazareth began to teach, saying:
I AM the bread of life.
I AM the true vine.
I AM the light of the world.
I AM the way, the truth, and the life.
Before Abraham was, I AM.
I and the Father are one.

The God of the Universe in the flesh.  What an appalling and blasphemous claim! How offensive to reason and religion!                                                                            God Almighty hung on a cross.

They did not receive him, but to those who did receive him, to those who believe in his name, he gave the right to become Children of God.

Children of God.  Sons and daughters.
Jesus said, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”  (John 15:15)

The God of the universe has drawn near.

Christmas.  Advent is over.  God has come.

God is not just above us or beside us, but within us.

God is present.  Now.  In this moment.

“Lord, thank you that you are here.”

“Because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Gal. 4:6)

Abba.  The Aramaic equivalent to DaDa – the first word a baby would speak.
This is the image we have of our intimacy with God.
Though a baby does not understand who or what her father is, she cries out, “Abba” in total trust that her Abba will come and care for her.

The God of the universe is our Abba.

O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD. (Ps. 139)

When Adam sinned, he covered himself and hid from God.
When Christ atoned for our sin, he took away the veil of shame.

We stand, completely naked, before a God who loves us totally, completely, and unconditionally.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[m] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This is the love that has come down.
An incomprehensible love made real – made present – making us whole.
This is the God we worship this morning.
This the God who is here.
I AM.

And so we pray,
Our Father in heaven.

Though you are to be revered, your name has come to our lips.
Abba!
Hallowed be your name.

We pray that we would know your nearness.
We pray that we would know you in our hearts.
We pray that your power would transform our lives.
We pray that your love would change our world.
We pray that we would know your nearness.

“May Your kingdom come,
May your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.”

May that which seems far draw near.

Universal and particular.
Unknowable and yet known.

Our Father in Heaven.

Our Father in Heaven.

“Our Father in Heaven. Hallowed be your Name.  Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Amen.

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